Urinary Tract Infection (UTI)
Urinary tract infections are usually caused by organisms, that have spread from the rectum via the urethra to the bladder and kidneys. Less commonly they may be due to blood-borne infection. These organisms can damage the mucous membranes lining the bladder and urinary tract. Diabetics and men with an enlarged prostate may be more susceptible to UTIs, and the condition is common during pregnancy due to hormonal changes.
Symptoms of urinary tract infection include a sudden or frequent urge to urinate. You may experience pain or a sensation of burning, your urine may smell unpleasant, and it may appear cloudy or bloody. Lower abdominal discomfort is common, and you may feel tired and out of sorts. Elderly people can become confused or agitated. If you are sexually active you should see your GP to rule out the possibility of a sexually-transmitted disease.
An untreated UTI may result in a high temperature or pain in the lower back and sides, indicating kidney involvement. You should see a GP without delay if your symptoms worsen.
D-mannose is a naturally-occurring sugar present in, for example, cranberries, blueberries, pineapples and peaches. It prevents E.coli, the cause of around 90% of UTIs, from ‘sticking’ to the mucous membrane lining the urinary tract, making it easier to flush them out. However, it is ineffective against other infective organisms.
Cranberries contain high levels of proanthocyanidins which also help to reduce the adhesion of certain bacteria to the lining of the urinary tract. Cranberry capsules are more effective than cranberry juice, which is usually sweetened. High sugar consumption will encourage bacterial growth.
A course of probiotics such as Lactobacillus spp. will help restore the balance of ‘friendly’ bacteria in the digestive and urinary tracts, particularly following a course of antibiotic treatment.
A hot water bottle placed on the abdomen may make you feel more comfortable. You should also drink plenty of fluids to help flush out any bacteria.
Reduce your risk of developing a UTI. Always wipe your nether regions from front to back, wear loose cotton underwear and avoid the use of scented products when bathing. Empty your bladder regularly, particularly after having sex.
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